Siraj Haqqani moved to ‘secure safe house’ outside FATA
By Ali K Chishti
Daily Times can confirm that Siraj Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani Network, who had earlier been moved from Miranshah, North Waziristan to Kurram Agency, has been moved to a secure “safe house” outside FATA. The decision was taken after the September 27 NATO incursion near the village of Mata Sanger, which left two Pakistani FC guards dead.
“Apparently, Siraj Haqqani was pretty close at a safe-house when the NATO incursion at Kurram took place,” confirmed a top Western diplomat. It should be noted that Siraj Haqqani was earlier moved to Kurram Agency from Miranshah in North Waziristan after his brother, Mohammed, was killed in a US predator strike and another military commander, Saifullah Haqqani, was killed earlier this year.
The Haqqani network, which is considered as a ‘strategic asset’ by the Pakistani security establishment due to their considerable influence in Afghanistan, had first been moved to Kurram Agency where a new operation centre had been set up to intensify attacks in Afghanistan in co-ordination with a break away section of the Lakhkar-e-Tayyaba and other groups. It is now reported that the Shia tribes that make up most of the base for the Frontier Corps, who had earlier given most of the resistance to Gubuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami in Spina Shaga, have turned against the Haqqani network, who they see as an ideological threat to their existence. While most of the Pakistani mainstream media reported the recent clashes in Kurram Agency as ‘water wars’ between various tribal groups where more than 70 militants had been killed in strikes, it was in reality a section of the security establishment’s supporting pro-government tribal killings to pave a way for the Haqqanis. Daily Times can now confirm that it was a story to cover and allow the military to intervene on behalf of the Haqqanis, who are viewed as ‘strategic assets’ and ‘good Talibans’.
As a result, the Haqqanis play the ‘mediating role’ and ‘big brother’ of Kurram Agency, where at least two of the junior Haqqani, Khalil and Ibrahim Haqqani, were in Peshawar and Islamabad to negotiate a peace deal in Kurram.
It should be noted that previously in 2006, the banned sectarian organisation Sipah-e-Sahaba took control of a mosque in Parachinar and killed hundreds of Turis, while LeJ and LeT are present and use Kurram Agency due to the area’s strategic value as it borders Paktia, Nangarhar and Khost provinces of Afghanistan and is considered ideal for launching offensives into Afghanistan.
While the Bangash and Turis had been fighting against the TTP, LeJ, LeT, Haqqani supported groups in Kurram Agency, the Turis remain cut off, as the Taliban continue to attack along the single road that connects the remote area to the rest of Pakistan. The Turis have not received support from the Pakistani military for obvious reasons. US and Afghan forces tried to hit the Haqqani network in the summer of 2009 during a series of raids in Khost, Paktia, Logar, Zabul and Paktika provinces in Afghanistan, but failed to dislodge it.
It is to be noted that the Haqqani network took credit of kidnapping a US solider during combat from his post in Paktika on June 30, 2009 and has carried many suicide missions against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The ongoing negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban fell off because of the Haqqani network, whom the Americans considered to be a faction of al Qaeda. Most of the members of the Haqqani network have been added to the list of US Treasury’s specially-designated global terrorists for financing terrorism and the CIA has tried to inflict maximum damage to the network via drone attacks in North Waziristan.
It should be noted that there was an offer to the Haqqani network in 2001 to help the US in fighting against the Taliban and even head Afghanistan’s new government, which was refused. The network today remains, after al Qaeda, the biggest threat to NATO and ISAF.